Inattentional blindness

By Dave Henning / June 9, 2015

As Mark Batterson continues Chapter 2 (“Miraculous”) of The Grave Robber, he discusses an experiment conducted by two Harvard University researchers more than a decade ago.  Popularized in the book The Invisible Gorilla, the researchers filmed students passing basketballs around in a circle.

In the middle of the minute-long video, a woman dressed in a gorilla suit walks in, beats her chest, and walks out- the entire sequence taking nine seconds.  Viewers were instructed to count the number of passes made by players in white shirts.  As a result, only half the test group noticed the gorilla.

The gorilla was missed due to a phenomenon called inattentional blindness.  Pastor Batterson defines inattentional blindness as “the failure to notice something in your field of vision because you are focused on something else.”

The first century Pharisees make a great case study.  Blinded by their legalism, the Pharisees couldn’t see past their religious assumptions.  They missed Jesus’ miracles.  Whether inattentional blindness is intentional or unintentional, Pastor Batterson notes that “it’s one of the greatest threats to spiritual vitality.  One of the truest tests of spiritual maturity is seeing the miraculous in the monotonous.”

Experiencing something for the first time is unforgettable.  Time seems to stand still in the presence of the miraculous.  We have to be vigilant so that the “cataracts of the customary”  don’t cloud our vision.  We need to maintain our awareness of the miraculous and the awe of God.

Today’s question: What has enabled you to see the “miraculous in the monotonous” during your desert, transitional journey?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Intellectual idolatry”


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Dave Henning


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